Sidewalk outside Trump's new D.C. hotel becomes protest central

Sidewalk outside Trump's new D.C. hotel becomes protest central (ABC7)

Protesters were back outside the new Trump International Hotel in D.C. Thursday. This was not the first protest there this week and it likely won't be the last.

With just 12 days until the election, the adjacent sidewalk along Pennsylvania Avenue has become protest central.

“Trump is carrying this kind of hateful rhetoric attacking Latinos and veterans and Muslims. I can go on and on,” said Randy Parraz, who helped organize Thursday’s protest.

Parraz and other demonstrators called on Wal-Mart to stop selling Trump-related products. The hotel and the retail chain did not reply to our requests for comment.

During the hotel's grand opening Wednesday, protesters obtained a permit to gather on the front sidewalk. That property is managed by the National Park Service.

But on paper, the sidewalk officially ends about 40-feet from the curb. And protesters are not supposed to be in the plaza area, which includes an historic statue of Ben Franklin. That is General Services Administration property, now leased by the Trump organization.

“This is still public space, this is Pennsylvania Avenue, and we have a right to be here,” said Rev. Graylan Hagler, who has attended a couple of the protests.

Security guards have kept a distance this week, even as protesters rally nearby, with or without a permit.

“Our permit is the United States constitution, the freedom of expression, the right to assembly,” Parraz said. “That's what we're standing on. We're not blocking any roadways or any entrance ways. So we stand firmly on that.”

There are no clear boundaries outside the hotel but multiple government agencies have bordering oversight of the space. Take a few steps backward, you’re standing on park service property. Move forward, it's property of GSA. Take a few steps to the right, that's a different sidewalk regulated by MPD. And then stepping into the roadway, that is DDOT’s territory.

National Park Service public affairs officer Mike Litterst said, “Any protest is permitted on the sidewalk within the park service areas. Less than 25 individuals does not need a permit. Anything larger than that requires a permit though our office.”

The hotel did not respond to our request for comment. Meanwhile, permitted or not, the protesters said they will be back.

“We have a whole host of issues that will cause protest after protest to be on these streets,” Hagler said.

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